Tractor mark no guarantee of animal welfare

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From: Joyce D’Silva, Compassion in World Farming, Godalming, Surrey.

THE Red Tractor labelling scheme has its own value, guaranteeing traceability of its products. It does not guarantee what most animal scientists and the majority of the public would view as “high welfare pork”, as claimed in the advertisements last year.

As indicated in your article (Yorkshire Post, September 1), we did not seek to “discredit or undermine” Red Tractor, as BPEX chairman Stewart Houston suggests. Compassion in World Farming correctly challenged the wording of the adverts, and the Advertising Standards Authority agreed with us that they were “misleading”.

In our complaint to the ASA, we made it clear that British pig farmers are ahead of their peers in some respects, such as not using narrow sow stalls throughout the sow’s pregnancy and not using castration.

However, the continued use of slatted floors, lack of proper environmental enrichment and use of confining farrowing crates when the sow gives birth makes it impossible, as yet, to claim that all Red Tractor pork is “high welfare”.

Compassion in World Farming hopes that British pig farmers and the Red Tractor scheme will see this ruling as a challenge, not a blow.

We can assure them that Compassion will be the first to applaud them when they have sorted these remaining welfare problems. We believe that all pigs, wherever they are farmed, deserve the very highest welfare standards throughout their lives.